Landrace

Cannabis landraces. The essential characteristic of landraces is that they’re domesticates. As Dr. Ernest Small writes in Cannabis: A Complete Guide, “The term landrace (land race) refers to populations of domesticated plants that were selected over many generations by farmers in a region.” Selected traits can include high-quality fibre, large nutritious seeds, or highly aromatic inflorescences that are rich in THC.

The widespread claim on the Internet that landraces are wild plants created solely by nature is misleading and inaccurate. No doubt landraces are typically region-specific and adapted to their local environment through natural selection. But the defining qualities of these traditional domesticates are – as the term ‘landrace’ denotes – the result of humans consciously and unconsciously selecting for desired products, in some regions over many millennia.

‘Drug-type’ landrace strains can be grouped into two main types: northern domesticates, which are principally for resin (charas) and are found in the Himalaya, Hindu Kush, Central Asia, and Middle East; and southern domesticates, which are principally for bud (ganja) and originate in subtropical and tropical India and Southeast Asia.

Crucially, these ancient plants are an invaluable reservoir of biodiversity and are critically endangered. See the essential new study from McPartland & Small, ‘A classification of endangered high-THC cannabis (Cannabis sativa subsp. indica) domesticates and their wild relatives’ and the response by Angus here: ‘Endangered Varieties of subsp. indica: A Few Thoughts’.

For more about the term ‘landrace’ – misleading as it is – see What’s the Real Meaning of ‘Landrace’?

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